Day 1: 29 January 2013
1700m – 3000m
Imagine, if you can, standing amongst 100 excited expeditioners and 700 enthusiastic porters at the base of a very large mountain. Our very clever planning team has come up with an organisational system to ensure you know who your guide is and who is carrying your bag at all times – unfortunately the 700 porters are unaware of this plan and have just about tossed me off the mountain in their haste to pick up a bag, any bag, because holding a bag means you have a job for the next 7 days.
The 100 climbers are also feeling a little possessive of bags, as they include the paragliders we hoped to use at the summit, naturally they want to ensure that these bags have been picked up and are on their way up the mountain.
Finally we are off walking and I am actually the first one through the Machame gate, a position I wasn’t to hold again until 8 days later when I was the first person to walk out the gate on the other side of the mountain!
The heavens had opened up and we started our walk in the pouring rain, but given it was warm walking through the rainforest we began the first of what would become frequent wardrobe readjustments as we climbed. Clothes on, clothes off, wet weather gear on, wet weather gear off etc you get the picture.
We had been briefed for a 6 hour hike to make the first camp and as we were late getting away we fully expected to be walking in the dark. So it was a happy shock to reach camp after 4.5 hours and find it all set up. Adrian, the organiser had bought about 70 bright orange macpac tents which made a distinct impression upon reaching camp. The fun started if you were late into camp and had to go crawling around to find an empty tent. I devised a clever system for this in later days, as my pace got slower and was frequently one of the last into camp.
We had dinner in a big mess igloos and again chaos seemed to be the general theme, but as always in Africa, it all worked eventually and everyone got fed soup and spaghetti. I personally was ecstatic to find that milo was a key ingredient on this trip – after 7 straight days of frequent milo, that enthusiasm waned, but I’m sure my life time passion for milo will return shortly.
I set up my little living area, blowing up my thermal mattress and suddenly realising that it was only ¾ long – I’d forgotten that key element and knew that was going to come and bite me in the butt in days to come. Got out my sleeping bag and liner, but some warm sleeping clothes on, crawled into bed, with my head at the upward side of slope and attempted to fall asleep. The first and major problem became immediately obvious – there was no way my sleeping equipment was going to be warm enough and bugger all I could do about it now at 3000m. Uh oh.